Ina Fried

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So Tablets Aren’t for Content Creation, Huh? The iPad 2 Begs to Differ.

As the iPad took the computing world by storm last year, Microsoft and the PC industry tried to take solace in the idea that Apple’s tablet was initially seen mainly as a good way to view, rather than create, content.

Sorry, guys. If it was ever true, it certainly was proved false on Wednesday, as Apple showed that the new iPad was not only capable of making music and editing movies, but of doing so in intuitive and powerful ways not even possible on a traditional computer.

GarageBand and iMovie are quite capable products on the Mac, but the experience on a tablet is really something to behold. On the Mac, GarageBand is a nifty program for capable musicians who wanted to plug in their gear and record and mix their tracks. On the iPad, the app turns itself into the drum set, piano or guitar and even attempts to turn the truly tone deaf into halfway decent musicians through “smart instruments.”

That’s not to say that one can do 100 percent of the work now done on a PC on an iPad, but the list of things that work only on a computer is shrinking. (See this post from last fall when Walt Mossberg left his laptop at home and took an iPad on a trip to Paris.)

Just one year into the iPad era and there are already lots of general productivity and creativity apps on the market, and companies are rushing to find ways to incorporate line-of-business tasks into a device that is cheaper and more easily connected than the typical laptop.

On Apple’s last earnings call, the company said 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies are already working on ways to incorporate the iPad into their business. And Apple is actively touting the business abilities of the device, something it has done only off-and-on with the Mac over the years.

For his part, senior exec Phil Schiller told me that Apple has been careful not to pigeonhole the iPad as just for consumption.

“We never said that,” he said in a brief interview after the iPad event on Wednesday. “Remember, we launched the original iPad with iWork. We showed from Day 1 you can create as well as consume. I think developers have gone far further.”

Remember, at last year’s D8 conference, Steve Jobs talked about how devices like the iPad would slowly usurp traditional computers, much as cars began to outnumber trucks as the United States became a less agrarian nation. Trucks didn’t go away, and neither will computers, Jobs said. It’s just that eventually not everyone will want or need one.

We’re still a ways from that reality, but the latest iPad and its accompanying software are going to make life tougher for those who seek to write off the iPad and similar tablets as just toys.

Want more proof? Check out the video below to see the iPad 2 at work.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik